US indictment claims Zetas-Hezbollah link

A Lebanese drug kingpin with alleged connections to both Hezbollah and Mexico’s Los Zetas drug cartel, was charged with drug trafficking and money laundering, the Justice Department and DEA announced Dec. 13. Ayman Joumaa AKA “Junior” is accused of shipping an estimated 85,000 kilograms of cocaine into the United States and laundering more than $850 million in drug proceeds for Los Zetas cartel through front companies and the Lebanese Canadian Bank. The indictment, unsealed in Alexandria, Va., says his trafficking and laundering networks extended to the United States, Lebanon, Benin, Panama, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and elsewhere. DEA administrator Michele Leonhart said in a statement: “According to information from sources, his alleged drug and money laundering activities facilitated numerous global drug trafficking organizations, including the criminal activities of the Los Zetas Mexican drug cartel.” (ABC News, DEA press release, Dec. 13)

Also Dec. 13, Mexico’s Naval Secretariat and Prosecutor General of the Republic announced the arrest of an alleged founding leader of Los Zetas in a raid in CĂłrdoba, Veracruz. RaĂşl Lucio Hernández Lechuga AKA “El Lucky”—also code-named “Z-16″—was caught with an arsenal including 132 rifles, 36 pistols and five grenade launchers, authorities said. Four other suspected Zetas were detained with him, and a shootout with naval forces during the capture left one henchman dead and one marine wounded.

Hernández was on a list of Mexico’s 37 most wanted, and is said to have reported directly to Zetas leader Heriberto Lazcano AKA “El Lazca”—who remains at large. Hernández allegedly led the network in the Veracruz area when nine Mexican marines were abducted earlier this year. (AFP, La Jornada, Dec. 13)

See our last post on Mexico’s narco wars.

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